A ‘citizens veto’ (referendum) of SB 1516 is under consideration


Yesterday when I posted about SB 1516 (.pdf), the so-called “Campaign Finance Amendments” bill from Secretary of State Michele Reagan, more appropriately titled the “dark money on steroids” bill, The GOP culture of corruption in Arizona embraces its dark side, I suggested:

dark_moneyIt may be a more practical alternative to force a citizens referendum of SB 1516 — a referendum requires about half the number of signatures as an initiative, 75,321 valid signatures — as voters successfully did for the GOP Voter Suppression Act, HB 2305, just a couple of years ago. AZ Lege seeks to repeal the GOP Voter Suppression Act, HB 2305, to deprive the voters of their ‘citizens veto’. It is something that clean elections and voting rights advocates need to consider.

Well speak of the devil. Howard Fischer reports, Opponent of ‘dark money’ disclosure bill considering seeking public vote:

Arizona voters may get the last word on sweeping legislation that alters the rules for “dark money” and other anonymous donations to politicians and ballot measures.

Rep. Ken Clark, D-Phoenix, who led the unsuccessful attempt to defeat the measure earlier this week, said he is setting up meetings with groups that would be interested in referring SB 1516 to the November ballot.

That includes former Attorney General Terry Goddard, who had launched an initiative drive to enact new state laws forcing greater disclosure of who is influencing elections. That campaign has been suspended while Goddard looks for donations after the initial source of funding dried up.

Clark actually could have an easier path to getting the issue before voters.

Goddard, in proposing a new law through the initiative process, would need 225,963 valid signatures on petitions by July 7 to qualify for the ballot.

But Clark is proposing is a referendum on what the Legislature has approved. And that takes just 75,321 signatures.

Potentially more significant, the Arizona Constitution gives referendum organizers 90 days after the end of the legislative session to circulate petitions. At the rate the session is going, that deadline is not likely to occur before the middle of July.

There’s more.

If Clark gets the signatures, the legislation is placed on “hold” until voters get a chance to weigh in. And that means groups seeking to defeat it have to live under existing disclosure laws and not the looser rules that SB 1516 proposes.

And there’s one more thing that could work in Clark’s favor.

By law, the referendum is set up as a ratification. That means it takes a “yes” vote to approve what the Legislature has done.

And political consultants generally agree that when people are confused, they tend to vote “no.”

 All good points, and reasons why a referendum on SB 1516 is far more doable than Terry Goddard’s “dark money” initiative that: (1) has no financial backing and is unlikely to qualify for the ballot, and (2) even if his initiative does qualify for the ballot and is passed by the voters, there is an army of attorneys at the “Kochtopus” Death Star, the Goldwater Institute, waiting in the wings to file one of their bogus First Amendment anonymous political speech lawsuits to prevent it from going into effect. Preserving the status quo with a “citizens veto” of SB 1516 makes far more practical sense in conserving time, effort and money.

And a referendum will turn out the same voter constituencies who would vote for  Goddard’s initiative for disclosure of “dark money” in campaigns.

Clark said he is still formulating how best to get the message to voters that they should kill SB 1516. But he said it should not be hard.

“I think the public knows exactly what this is about,” he said. Clark cited polls by both the Morrison Institute and on behalf of Goddard’s group, both of which he said show a vast majority of Arizonans want limits on “dark money.”

Get yourself a new pair of walking shoes and some new pens, and get ready to walk petitions for a referendum of SB 1516. If you can’t walk, write a check to help support the referendum effort.

Ultimately, the solution lies in ending the decades old GOP culture of corruption in Arizona. As I said previously:

Face it, citizens. If you ever want to get “dark money” out of politics you must first vote every Tea-Publican out of office to have any chance of making it happen. They are addicts addicted to “dark money,” and they do not want to be treated or to come clean.


  1. I have my shoes, I have my pens, I have my clipboard. Let’s fight for transparency in Arizona government!

    • Bribes are now protected free speech in Arizona.

      Sigh. Hand me my clipboard.

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